Photographing Your Paintings

Q. When shooting a slide to enter a competition, do I include the frame and the mat?

A. Jurors only want to see the image. The mat and frame distract from the painting. I had first-hand experience with this in a show I juried. Inevitably, one woman sent in a slide that included her paintings, herself standing next to them, and the crowd behind her at an art festival. In another entry, the slide featured a framed painting sitting on a chair. In both of these examples, it was difficult to focus my attention on the paintings themselves.

When you’re photographing your paintings, try to get the entire image on the entire slide. If this isn’t possible, I suggest using a special opaque tape, applied directly to the slide, to mask out everything in the image but the painting. As an example, see the slide of the painting Inside Out, by Joan Rothel. The tape, which comes in both silver and red varieties, is available at most photography supply stores. Then, when the slide is projected, only your painting will show.

Catherine Anderson is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West and the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society. Visit her Web site at

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